Kathump! A Tongue in Cheek Look at Tomahawk and Axe Training.

The last few years, my Facebook and Youtube pages have been peppered with various superstar guys doing/teaching theee….Tomahawk! Or Axe! I absorb the clips with some amazement, confusion and distaste. Am I seeing an audition for Flash Dance or real-life, “Axe Combatives?” Even I have mysteriously been asked to “do Tomahawk” in seminar sessions. The fad goes viral. Seeing the videos, geared to make jaws-drop, and also seeing the glaring mistakes even makes ME want to create my own axe course, though I have denounced the idea.

     Mistakes? Before I start with this satirical, tongues inside cheeks review, I will state my “bona fidis” that qualifies my comedic opinion. I have had an hand axe thrown at me. I was attacked by a man rushing at me with a full axe. I have worked an axe murder, and several criminal investigations involving axe attacks. For many years I attended an annual “Death and Violent Assault “week long training school, where medical examiners from big cities flew in to discuss, show and explain their major cases for the year. Slide shows and narrative. Synopsis. These often included axe/hatchet murders. Axe autopsy reviews. Etc. Plus, I have co-instructed a few seminars with Dwight McClemore doing tomahawk. Dwight has spent a lifetime studying this subject. As a result of this background, which by the way, honestly, might be 100 times greater than most of those folks parading the globe with this-or-that axe/tomahawk course, I offer my farce observations.

     In short, for starters, if I were to dare initiate my very own, axe fighting course, I would officially call it – Kathump! “Kathump” because when you actually hit a human being with an axe/tomahawk it goes kathump. In fact, it might go so far kathump, it might take a foot on that body part to work and pump the axe out. I am bedazzled by the flowing figure fours and multiple-step, follow-ups that the axe masters demonstrate when showing their moves in combat scenarios. Most of it should really stop at the first good, kathump.

Axe

     For example, there’s a video clip of an axe-man with a sweeping blow to head (simulated of course by going over the head because we can’t really hit the head) then he majestically sweeps down and hits the Achilles tendon or at very least, hooks the ankle and pulls in a foot sweep, and said stuntman/uke is pulled down. The mouth-watering, viewing masses, watching with their various rubber and plastic facsimiles in their hands cannot wait to simulate this two step, axe attack! I said to myself upon viewing this,

     “Hold on a minute…wouldn’t that vicious swing into the head…just go…kathunk? Thereby ending the flow, thereby stopping at step 1, thereby no cool step 2, ankle chop-chop?”

     Two steps? What of the three or more step sets they do? I have seen 3, 4 and 5 step axe moves taught, which clearly couldn’t be finished because of a step 1 or step 2 kathump. I just kept spotting motion-stopping kathumps. Doesn’t ANYONE realize the folly of what they are doing? Do they care? Should they care? Or are they just having Flash Dance fun? Do they not know they have to remove the embedded axe?

     Is there a culture, or a country on the planet that in their early history, didn’t need and develop an axe of some sort for work or war? Axes were and are everywhere. Thus, it becomes easy for any martial arts maestro to whip a cool, axe-choppy-choppy, course because…because who in hell will actually research/challenge their info, especially those folks enveloped in “system-love” and “system-leader” love. (For the record I have written about this “over-love” syndrome many times before. If you love your leader too much? Love your system too much? This is not a scientifically good thing, as you will not question what supreme leader or supreme system does. You just follow, follow, follow the leader.) With this vast geographical expanse, with the exotic premise that, “the grass is always greener,” one can conjure/invent/claim any axe course from anywhere.

“Secrets of Monte Carlo Axe Fighting.”

“The Bali Tomahawk.”

“Sudanese Axe Combatives.”

“Tai Chi Axe.”

“Axe Maga.”

“Krav Axe.”

Or, mine – “Kathump!”

     Different countries. For example, here is a history of the tomahawk. USA. “The term tomahawk was derived from the Algonquian words “tamahak” or “tamahakan." The Native American Indians regularly used tomahawks made from stone heads which were attached to wooden handles secured by strips of rawhide. They used tomahawks for general uses such as hunting, chopping, cutting, or mainly as a weapon.” It would be odd if a guy in Switzerland suddenly started teaching "Tomahawk." I also have my suspicions about lifelong FMA teachers who suddenly conjure a hatchet course from thin air, from say, ohhh… "Mindanao," swinging…American tomahawks? Because it’s a fad they want to cash in on.

 

Hawk 1

     The Great American Tomahawk Company folks I knew in the 90s, was swallowed up by Cold Steel. In the previous years of the swallow, their “Ranger-esque” Tomahawks, touted as used by various US military units, were very expensive. Very expensive to me anyway. Over $150 as I recall. I looked at those simple, 17th and 18th century designs and thought about how I would rather have a modern, hand axe from the Home Depot or a similar home improvement company at $19 or $29, than something less useful for over $150. But now, Cold Steel is selling them way cheaper. Hey, Cold Steel is selling the training tomahawks now for about 13 bucks!

     But having a simple, flat hammer head on one side like a tool, seemed very useful, unlike these classic Ranger hawks. After all, as with knives, soldiers use tomahawks for all kinds of lifestyle chores.

     All these flows and motions? Look, I know it’s important to spend time holding a tool, a weapon, swinging it around. Hitting things, etc. Bonding with the weapon. I see films of people by themselves, just doing that solo command and mastery work with axes. A lot of things like figure 8s in the air, etc. I get the idea. I also see that the axe or tomahawk is used in trapping/moving the limbs of an opponent. I get that too. But to me, they seem to do and expect too much trapping, and trapping the exact motions of another holding/fighting an axe!

     Axe versus axe? We live in a mixed weapons world, would you be always fighting axe-to-axe? Nope. I don’t think so. That gets a little crazy and off-kilter, but if it just a hobby? Who cares, as long as they know it’s a fun hobby. (After all, how many people want to work 28” stick versus 28” stick? Numerous. Endlessly. Yet nearly impossible to actually happen.) And how someone with just an interest in history? Have fun with your hobbies.

     Fun? As a European friend and life long martial artist told me recently, he questioned an axe teacher at a axe seminar, with these same kathump doubts. "You couldn't continue after that chop!" my friend pointed out. The internationally known instructor replied, "but where's the fun in that?" I once asked a guy about his axe god/hero and how the demos and training would be cut by 2/3rds if they counted the kathumps as real. He said, "Then there wouldn't be enough material for a seminar."

     And you know, people like to throw axes and tomahawks for fun, sport and hobby. Okay. Fine. It’s the combat scenarios that can really drive me crazy. And when the expert stands before an "opponent" and does 9 steps of buzz saw, figure 8 magic, that would really have ended at step 2 because of the…kathump. Jeremy Mayes calls it, "the tomahawk ballet."

     What I would do if I invented an axe course? If pressed into the big Kathump fad? Well, the course would be much shorter. So short, the course might only be 90 minutes? No chance for a whole day or a two-day seminar. I would use the combat clock angles for attacks. I would use the statue drill as a formula to introduce trapping and passing. I would do some minimum limb trapping. The scenarios would absolutely include the deadly, kathump realities. Basically, I would process the axe through the classic SFC/Force Necessary formats, with nuance changes specific to the axe, and mixed weapon fights. Nothing from Madagascar or Monte Carlo. And, I wouldn't call it "Texican Axe Fighting," just because I am from Texas.

     For fun? For history? For exercise? For bobby? For…self defense? No matter, the next time you see one of these axe or tomahawk masters do their flash-dance thing in scenarios? Stop and take a hard look, an examination of exactly when that edged weapon goes…kathunk.

     And that is my tongue-in-cheek, satirical review of Axe fighting courses.

     And stand by for- “Hock’s Made-Up, Kathump Axe Course from Nowhere!”

     …nahhh, just kidding.

 

Hock's email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com

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Frigid to Red Hot Fighting

Shooting Cold. Fighting Cold. 

     No, fighting cold is not about being mugged in Alaska or just a concern for the 10th Mountain Division. It is a term thrown around here and there in the gun training business, but also relates the hand, stick and knife world too. It should be a major concern for all, because generically – it's really about the ambush, the surprise attack. And you must respond – cold.

fighting cold

     The subject of Cold Shooting comes up on the web once in a while. Some range shooters I know and hear about will always keep score of their first set, their "cold shooting" when they first step up to the firing line and shoot a set. A virgin experience of the day? They want to keep track of how well they do after they,

– pack their gear at home,

– drive to the range,

– get out of the cars,

– drop some gear on the table,

– maybe sip some coffee,

– chat with the “range masters,”

– carry their gear to the spot/stand/table/shelf,

– shuffle up to the target and paste up a new,

– wander back to the shooting line and,

– shoot…"cold."

– (If at a class? Listen to the instructors intro, lecture and in some cases, ancillary yammering…)

 

Chilly? Cold? Frigid?

After all, who wants to shoot cold in competitions for scores, trophies, money and bragging rights? Who doesn’t want to take a few warm up shots? I know I often like to do a few dry-fires before live-fires. How cold is it, though? Completely frigid? Cold? Or chilly? They call it "cold shooting," or reverse it "shooting cold," and it kinda' is, in a way. Sadly, oddly, some of the best shooters I know, don't do as spectacular in their first set, as they wish, and this is one reason why they keep score of this process over time. And often they do about as good as I can when we all start, and I do not shoot as much as they do, nor do I labor and belabor and ponder the art, science, love and dedication to trigger pressure and bulls eye, pistol, target shooting. They admit, shooting cold is challenging for some. And, it frustrates some. Then they very quickly get much, much better after a "warm-up," quickly surpassing ol' mediocre me. (And yes, yes, we all know some special gun gods and rockstars with so much time and grade they do awesome right out of the gate. Pew-pew!).

     Shooting cold? What about fighting cold? Or, working out cold? How cold is this cold, though? Is this "zero to sixty?" As the old “miles per hour,” car speed quote suggests? Is there any prep, any subliminal preparation going on this range day? Or this generic, training day? I became fascinated by this idea of shooting cold and of course, fighting cold. What does it mean in the bigger picture? How does it relate to self-defense, in crime and in war? You know, all the "who, what, where, when how and why" questions I like to kick around.

     Subliminal? Years ago it was common knowledge in the fitness field that if you packed for the gym and drove to the gym about the same times, your body/brain knew the routine as we are such creatures of habit. You drive, park, walk the lot, climb the stairs. All the while your body/brain is saying, "Okay, okay, we're coming. We're getting ready." Once in the gym, is this moment a true zero? Or, maybe 10? 10 to 60?  Last month I parked on my gym’s parking lot and saw another guy, a bit older than me, park too. He got out of his car, got a gym bag and stopped. He took his ballcap off, looked to the sky and said a prayer. I spied his lips moving. Then he donned his cap and made for the gym doors. He really prepped for a work-out! What did he say I wonder?

  “Dear Lord, let me crush everything?”

  “Dear Lord, don’t let me die of a heart attack this morning?”

   What would your prayer be? Have one? Need one?

Routines. Preparation. Getting ready. Not always short term. We have all gone to a shooting class, or a martial tournament that we anticipated and our inner engine was revved up more than just the morning before. Even the night before. Even longer than that. I once took a shooting course, to prepare for the tougher shooting course the following weekend. 

     How powerful can mental preparation be? Surely you have heard of, or read the studies about how positive this mental approach can be. Need I repeat them here (sigh)? It is important. I recall even back in 1972, in Ed Parker Kenpo Karate, teachers and students gossiping about another martial arts system and how it sequestered students in dark rooms assigned to imagine the moves over and over in their heads as a basis of performance. 1972! None of us could fathom this being successful. How? Yet…yet those studies! It worked. So, does the simple act of going to the range to shoot on gun day, mentally prepare you for the target/bulls eye process? I think so. A bit. It is one step back from dry-firing if you think about it,

 Frigid? How about being asleep?

It’s especially cold-cold when you consider the old attempts at testing the responses of police when THEY WERE ASLEEP! Yes. Remember those tests decades ago? They would bed down a series of state troopers and tell them, just before “nighty-night” that they would be harshly awakened and they would have to wake up, grab a nearby gun and shoot a target near the foot of their bed. The results were not so good. Often bad in fact. Another similar sleep-study let tested police wake up on their own and they had to remember this assigned chore. As I recall they were slow to remember the assigned chore, but did grab and shoot…and also not too well, but they did remember. Where does this information fit in the “chilly, cold and frigid” charts of our considerations? Frankly, I don’t exactly know, but it’s interesting.

     When you actual started doing physical stuff on your jogging route, at the gym, at the “dogo,” or the shooting range, you are not really, fully working out "cold." The same is true with getting your uniform on for work, or slinging your vest on in the military. You are not cold-cold (unless of course, much time passes between the prep and action and you "chill out," which is a whole other set of “syndromes,” we talk about in other essays). And the same mental prep is true of the drive to shooting range, the lugging of gear, the chat with the range master…it's gun, gun, gun. The inner gears are working. This type of first round scoring, cold shooting is not as frigid as you think. Not like a zero-to-sixty ambush FRIGID. (Think for a moment about all the mental and physical prep before SWAT arrives on a scene.)

The damn ambush.

My old catch phrase is – “life is either an interview or an ambush” that people hear each week. I hope they never tire of it. The greatest armies in the world have been defeated by ambush. The simple element of surprise. The greatest fighters too. I get a kick out the internet comments when location cameras around the world catch a criminal jumping a victim in the most "ambushy" types of locales.

     There is always a wise-guy that comments "that person was not alert!" and the great armchair advice, "you must always stay alert." As if he, she, or we all, walk around with enough cortisol scarring our veins and heart, to be scanning EVERYWHERE, ALL the time. We hear the expression "you don't pick the time and place of your attack, the enemy does," so as everyday walk-around folks, or someone on common police and militay patrol, you will probably, suddenly be fighting cold. It is certainly a good idea to worry about and consider "cold-fighting" and "cold shooting," in your training, even though we simply cannot really replicate that "zero-to-sixty" frigid to red hot, encounter for training. I don’t think we need a chart the size of a doorway like the OODA Loop demo diagrams have become, to explain this simple “Boo/Surprise” idea. It's as simple as a foot fake in football, rugby or soccer.

FacebookSDMS book

     There are many startle responses to the sudden boo/jump, (one modern textbook counted 30 responses) not just one or two as you might have been sold to believe by martial markeeters. Let's hope you don't fall right down or feint, which are two of the startle responses! You instead, have to deal with the attack. I first learned about Ambush/Counter- Ambush in the Army in 1973, and it was a big deal. They trained us in what was called back then, "Immediate Action Drills," things done so many times that you may well jump right into that response groove when ambushed. Hopefully. It is reinforced by many, many repetitions. Here are some old Army manual notes (minus the small and large unit suggestions) on the ambush drill idea that relates to citizens, police and yes, obviously soldiers too.

Immediate Action Drills: 

"Immediate action drills are drills designed to provide swift and positive  reaction. They are simple courses of action, dome immediately. It is not feasible to attempt to design an immediate action drill to cover every possible situation. It is better to know few immediate action drills for a limited number of situations that usually occur (in a combat area.)

    1- Can be designed, developed, and used by anyone, (any unit)

    2- Are designed and developed as needed for the anticipated combat situation.

    3- When contact/ambush, is at very close range and maneuver may restricted."

This does work often, and then…not sometimes. Just some notes. As I have stated many times before, when students approach you with concerns about "how-fast" and "will-they" react properly to an sudden attack, you can honestly shove them back on the floor and tell them to do more reps, and explain why. Fortune favors the prepared. Build confidence, yes, but cold is still cold, and frigid is still worse.

     One of my friends said, "Hock is right about this. I suck shooting cold, but that is how I am going to shoot – cold – stepping out of the Waffle House and suddenly in trouble, on any given night."  Of course, through training you might achieve that "gun god" status where you can shoot cold on call? Do you really have the time, the money, the lifestyle and the dedication to be such a god? I'll confess to you right now. I don't.

     So, It's dang hard to replicate shooting cold or fighting cold in training, because you are never completely cold-cold when you plan, dress and travel and lug in and gear up for training. Maybe they should call a real ambush response "Shooting Frigid?" or "Fighting Frigid" instead of just being cold? 

     Am I getting warm, yet? HA! 

 

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“Your Husband is Dead! Dead, I Tell You. Dammit! DEAD!”

Death Notifications. All Horrible. All this talk about Trump and his death notification, made me think of the thee WORST one I ever had to do. It is bizarre and funny and twisted…

It was tough being Iranian in Texas after the embassy hostage takeover in the 1970s. We had a warrant officer, Merle Culbert, who spent his workweek arresting people with active traffic warrants. After the hostage grab, Merle declared a personal war on Iranians and put them on the top of his hunting list each day. It gave him great personal pleasure to shackle up an “A-rab” like that and toss him in jail while our hostages were blindfolded and held captive. BUT, the pastime proved fairly pointless because the happy Iranians in the USA were the exact opposite of those radicals in their homeland!

Iranians started calling themselves Persians back then; and most of us dull-headed Americans, who could barely learn to drive to the big city shopping mall, were not historically and geographically hip enough to make this Iran-Persia connection.

“What? Persia? Ya mean that place where they make them pointy slippers?”

While off duty when I was a young cop, I frequently hung out in a nightclub called the Esalom. The slightly upscale bar and restaurant with sort of a Casablanca look was owned by a “Persian” named “Matt.” American nicknames like “Matt” were common. Inside the club each night, a clutch of interesting characters like an airline pilot, a biker, a few cops, and a few others (the ones I can’t recall because of alcohol or brain damage) drank and caroused as “the regulars.” Later in the evenings, I might troll some of the country Western bars in the city if I was feeling horsy. Well, that about wraps up approximately eight years of my elite social life! But Matt would often run the bar on some weeknights; and on quiet ones, he would tell me stories about his Persia-Iran. Crazy place. Very Americanized and modern except for, as he would put it, “very crazy religious people.” I had no idea how crazy. Matt did. That was why he left his homeland. I began to discover that Matt was highly educated from several American colleges. In fact, most “Persians” were here for college and tried to stay after they graduated.

During and then, well, after the Hostage Crisis, there were many educated and successful “Persians” … living and working among us (as McCarthy would say)! Americanized or not, there were still unshakeable cultural differences. One such Persian family ran a hair salon and nail shop in the main shopping center. Through the years, cops and detectives generally got to know many business people in their areas and cities. I got to meet the Shans: Momma Shan, Daddy Shan, and 18-year-old daughter Shan. And it was there, in the 1980s and in the political, multi-cultural maelstrom, that my tale began one spring evening….

olden days copy

“Hock, there is a dead guy at the hospital from a traffic accident,” Patrol Lieutenant Walter Keene told me on the phone. It was about 6 p.m., and I was eating dinner at my house with my second wife and first and second kids. The evening-shift detectives had left town on a case; and I was on call for the week, so “call” started at 5 p.m. instead of 11 p.m. as usual.

“Traffic?” I mumbled with a mouthful. I don’t do traffic."
“Well, the doctor at the hospital said when they looked over his body, his body had about 20 large, fresh circular … wounds all over it. He said something wasn’t right about it.”
“Fresh circular wounds?”
“Enjoying that dinner are ya?” Keene chided, hearing me chew. He loved interrupting my life for call-outs, whether morning, noon, or night.
“Was.”
“Well, set it aside Mister Detective; and you can eat it nice and cold later,” he laughed out loud. It was just a routine he and I had. When he woke me at night, I’d answer the phone and hear his gravelly voice ask, “Sleepin’ good are ya? Havin’ ya a real nice, sleepy-time dream, are ya? HAHAHA-haha!”
Within about 20 minutes, I was at the hospital emergency room. 

A patrol woman was finishing a fatality accident report.
“This is a mystery crash, Hock,” she said, showing me her diagram on a clipboard. “He was driving south on Mingo Road and veered off smack into a telephone pole at a high speed. When we got there, he was dead.”
She handed me a Polaroid of the car. It was totaled. A giant, v-shaped crash wrapped around a telephone pole. “No skids. Just straight into the pole.”
“Who is he?” I asked.
“Ahram Shan. The guy who owns the hair salon on University Drive in the Johnson Center.”

I nodded, and we walked to one of the ER surgery rooms. I was no traffic investigator; and, frankly, I deeply despised all aspects of traffic work—the tickets, the endless accident reports, all that. My version of an upper rung of hell would be an assignment in a traffic division. But I knew that often those kinds of crashes involved sudden heart attacks, passing out, sleep deprivation, or whatever glitch caused a feller to black out and drive high speed straight into his smashing death.
Shan was naked on a metal gurney. The doctor followed us in.

“Look at these,” the doc pointed out to me. Sure enough there were tens of fresh, circular cuts and bruises all over his body on his face, arms, chest, and legs; and when we turned him over, we saw them on his back. All about the size of small jar lid. One side worse and deeper than the other. I took a real close look. They were not complete, perfect circles. They were somewhat oblong. What the hell? That was before Scully, Mulder, and the X-Files; otherwise, I’d have called them for help.
“Did … something blow up in the car that…?”
“Nope,” the officer said.

Did a really odd beating happen just before the car drive that caused this man to pass out? What would cause those oddball wounds? Some kind of sex fetish deal? What? “Well, I guess I need to find out from whence he was coming. 

And I have to go to the Shan house. Where does he live?”
She handed me his driver’s license AND with it, she handed off another major, nasty responsibility, the dreaded death notification. Before our county organized a medical examiner’s office in the 1990s, we used our nearby Dallas and Ft. Worth offices for autopsies and major forensics; and these modern offices now have investigators who go to the scenes and make the death notification. But back then, death notices were performed by patrolmen and detectives. Detectives did it when it might matter in their investigation. Such as now.

There was an art to death notifications. There were police schools for death notifications. I had been to them; and it was touchy, touchy business. I was not “Mister Warmth,” but was not cold-hearted enough not to try to do a good job with it. Good God, what a terrible thing to have to tell people. I had delivered many; and this unique, American-Persian one I am telling you about was the worst death message I had ever had to do and the worst I had ever heard of anywhere else! So get yourself ready for this ugly ride.

I telephoned the police station and asked for our forensics guy, Russell Lewis, to come out and take some 35 mm photos of the wounds on the body. I ordered an autopsy. I called the evening-shift Detective Sergeant Howard Kelly as protocol indicated and informed him of my little mess. He, too, was eating dinner at home; and there was no need for him to stop because I was holding the bag, so to speak. Then I girded my loins for the trip to the Shan house and the death notification.

I rehearsed the speech in my mind as I drove across the city. The lines are pretty short and not sweet. My guess is that anyone who is at home, has a loved one not at home, and then sees the police show up with grim, sober expressions at the door is already expecting bad news before an officer opens his mouth. I often wonder about the miserable job of doing this chore for the military. Imagine having a full-time job of making death notifications? Anyhow, I kept in mind that the Shan house might contain the secret source of the wounds; so I would approach this as an investigator AND as a death notifier. A greasy tightrope.

The Shan house was a typical residence in a middle-class housing addition. Cars in the driveway. Grass cut. Clean. I parked, took a deep breath, and approached the door. Listened first. Nothing. Then rang the doorbell.
Daughter Shan answered. She recognized me and smiled. No surprise on her face. Just a genuine half smile.

“Is your mother home?” I asked.
“Yes,” she turned to summon her and left the door open. I stepped right in and scanned the joint. Clean, orderly, nothing out of the usual; it was just a lived-in house with some lived-in clutter here and there.

Mrs. Shan walked in with a welcoming smile and a curious expression. I was glad the daughter was there because they could comfort each other when they heard the news. Always good to have support handy.
“Mrs. Shan,” I started, “I have some bad news. Your husband had a car crash. I hate to tell you this, but … he is dead. He crashed into a telephone pole just two hours ago.” There it was. Boom.
She stared at me with the same expression. Unchanged. The curious smile. The daughter was a little more serious.
“Oh, Hock, that is funny,” she said.
“Ahh … funny?”
“I know what you are doing,” she said.
“What am I doing?” I asked. Then I noticed a wound on her neck. That same oblong shape, cut, and bruise.
“You are trying to make the peace.”
“Peace?”
“But it is a cruel joke for you to play. I will not forgive him.”
“I am not trying to make any joke, Mrs. Shan.”
“Ooooh, yes you are!” she wagged her finger in my face. The smile disappeared.
“Momma!” the daughter said and stepped back into the dining room. I remember her moving or crossing her arms in some way that indicated she was getting nervous and believing me.
“It is very cruel for you to do this favor for him.”
“Favor? Mrs. Shan, your husband was killed on Mingo Road in a traffic accident.”
“No, he was not.”
“Yes, he was.”
“You are here to scare me for him,” she said. She was getting angry. The lips curled.
“His body is at the hospital.”
“No, it is not. He has asked you to do this.”
“And his body is full of round bruises and cuts just like the one on your neck,” I proclaimed.
“Momma!” the daughter declared.
“You are trying to make me feel bad about fighting with my husband. I know he has asked you to come here and tell me he is dead to make me feel bad. This is such a rotten trick,” she said. As her words progressed, the anger grew in her face. Lots of teeth. Red skin. She started moving around.
“He is dead,” I insisted.
“HE IS NOT DEAD!”
“HE IS DEAD!” I shouted back.
“Where did he get those bruises? How did YOU get those bruises?” I demanded. My eyes shifted from the mother and the daughter.
“We had a fight! You know this! He told you this!”
“A fight with what?”
“Belts! We … we had a fight with belts.”
There was a belt on the floor and one lying over the back of a living room couch. They both had large buckles. Oblong in shape.
“Belts? You were swinging belt buckles at each other?” I picked them up, with intention to keep.
“Yes, this is how we fight. It is not the first time. We have these fights. I will not forgive him for this evil lie!”
“Well, he is dead. Dead at the Westgate Hospital Emergency Room.”
“YOU are lying! LYING. You are just as bad as he is!” she screamed with a banshee face. “LIAR!” She went for the belt on the couch.

How did it come to this? DAMN! This all went to hell in less than two minutes. It is not too often you yell at the surviving spouse in a death notification.
“He is not dead!”
“Your husband is dead! Dead, I tell you. Dead.”
“No! Liar! LIAR!”
“Come down to the hospital with me. Right now. And I will show you. Both of you.”

The daughter convinced the mother to go. The daughter was in a state of shock. While they grabbed their purses, I decided to grab up those two belts. I had many legal reasons to do so. I was there on an official death notice. Heard a spontaneous admission from the wife. Belts in plain view. My safety issues. I had many reasons to seize those belts, so seize them I did.
It was now nightfall. We got into our cars—me in mine, the mother and daughter in theirs—and I led the way to Westgate. I was steaming a bit, and all pretense of my caring about her feelings was pretty much gone.

We entered the ER, and I walked them straight through and into the operating room. Mr. Shan was still there. Naked. Gray. Deader than hell.
The daughter stopped at the doorway and gasped. The mother marched right up to the body.

“Wake up!” she shouted, inches from his face.
“This joke is over. I will never forgive you. Stop this joke!”
She started beating the body and the face, and a nurse and I pulled her off.
“Momma! Momma! Daddy is dead! He is dead!” the daughter shouted to her, gushing with emotion and tears. She helped us pull Mrs. Shan from the body.

The mother froze. Then she began emitting that shrill scream of the Middle Eastern women we hear on the news these days. She ran down the hallway bouncing off the walls, swinging her purse wildly, and striking her back and chest in an act of self-flagellation. Some of her purse items flew through the air. She dashed outside in the parking lot. Needless to say, she was indeed the main show of the emergency room. The daughter scooped up the items and chased out after her.
The nurse and I just looked at each. I could only mumble, “Iranian,” as some sort of excuse for the behavior?

About 20 minutes later, I had a quiet conversation with the daughter and the ER doctor. She told us that her parents had a vicious belt-buckle battle that afternoon at home. She said he left the house in a fit of anger. And then and there he crashed. I asked her if he had a heart condition. She said no. Anyone in her family have one? Her grandfather did, Shan’s father. In the week of her grandfather’s 54th birthday, he dropped dead of a heart attack.

“And how old was your dad?” I asked.
“He was 54. His birthday was just 4 days ago.”
Father and son! Both men died in the same week of their 54th birthdays. Sound amazing? That coincidence was not all that amazing and was not medically uncommon. I knew the syndrome existed; but for my final reports, I had to do a little research to support my findings. The doctor nodded. Of course, he knew right away. That’s the kind of stuff docs know.
Within a week, the autopsy results were in. Mr. Shan died of a sudden heart attack while driving and coasted right into a telephone pole. Did he also die from the rage of his belt-buckle fight? I didn’t know, and I couldn’t prove it if I did know.
When I left the hospital that night, Mrs. Shan was in the dark leaning against the wall outside the hospital. Exhausted. Crying. Mumbling. Her daughter was inside taking care of the paperwork. I guess I could have stopped. You know … said something. Apologized. Sympathy. Whatever. But instead, I passed her right by and walked to my car, got in, and left. I was not a social worker or a psychiatrist. I was a detective. I just investigated shit.

I got home; and, indeed, the dinner was cold. My second wife started ragging on me for some insignificant thing I did or didn’t do. I poured a shot of whiskey and grabbed the cold pork chop off the plate and stepped out into the backyard. She followed me, of course. In the pasture out back, some cattle were up and moving slowly, uneasily about in the dark. I strolled up to the barbed-wire fence, put the glass on a fence post, and gnawed on the chop. She went on; I missed dinner and I missed the kids’ going to bed. I missed this. Missed that. The complaining droned on and on behind me.

I gnawed on that pork chop bone, and I hoped they’d call me out again for serious crime.

 

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Personality of the Knife

Knives have personalities. The generic look. The generic history. Slashing look. Stabbers. The personal attachment look. What is the personality or your knife?

Knife circle 1

I think there are several factors in knife personalities.

Culture of the knife Personality – One is the culture of the knife. Certain edged weapons have a history, a geographic flavor. Just think of the Japanese Tanto. The Kris. The Bowie knife. The Italian stiletto. The medieval dagger. The double-edged, commando knife. One in the martial business, or the knife aficionados, or makers recognize the aura/genre of many knives. This cultural attraction alone might be a main reason someone buys to collect, or buys to carry a knife. Somehow, some way, the look captures one’s fancy, imagination, expectation or whatever connection to books, movies, TV or past affiliation. Sort of a mysticism we mentally project upon a simple inanimate knife. After all, what makes us select the cars, pants, churches or sports teams we do? We are tribal, particular and peculiar from our hats down to our shoes. Hats and shoes as in style that is, not in size. We can’t change the size of our head or our feet. We can change the size and shape of a knife, but will the size be appropriate for our…"heads" and ”feet?”

Knife circle 3 med

Slashing, hacking and stabbing personalities – The shape and size of the knife tells an experienced handler what it can do best. Some are better hackers. Some long, thin ones are better stabbers. Some are wide and are better shaped for slicing. Like a carpet layer needs a certain angle for exactly what is needed, so do all knife users. A novice to so-called, knife "fighting," a new-be to say, construction work, will not know what kind of knife does what best. Experience and education is called for.

Personal, knife personality examples – I knew a Green Beret, Vietnam vet who passed on standard Army/government issue knives and preferred his old own Bowie Knife, replete with a carved stag handle. It was a family heirloom you might say, and therefore more important to him than any generic, legend of Jim Bowie. He said it gave him a certain power, a certain mojo from which he garnered mental and physical strength. This is a personal touchstone, reminiscent of many cultures, such as some of the native Americans might carry a medicine bag of mojo. Same-same. 

     Another friend of mind sought an old-fashioned, traditional looking (and hard to open) pocket, folding knife with stag handles, with multiple blades, because his dad had a similar one and it was lost through time. Both, more “personal, private” personality, touchstone selections. Still, with game points awarded for symbolic and personal mojo, on the battlefield or for back porch whittling, the knife size, shape and handle must fall within a scope and range of usable practicality and common sense. Switch this over to a parallel concept – you wouldn't a pack a flintlock pistol around for self defense, just because you love the early American history era. Extrapolate this idea over to other weapons and survival.

Knife circle 2 med

What personality knife do you really need? – Not just want for whatever abstract reason, but need? I think we have to return to the classic, Who, What, Where, When, How and Why questions I use all the time to best determine this.

– Who are you to need a knife?

– Who are you to carry a knife?

– What do you really need or want a knife exactly for?

– What do you exactly expect to do with this knife?

– What training do you have to make this a wise choice?

– What are the local laws for such a knife?

– What happens next? You use the knife and what will the police and prosecutors think of the name and look of your knife?

– Where will you carry this knife? Job? Protection? Handiness?

– Where on your body will you clip, or sheath or cart your knife?

– When will you need this knife? Work time? Off-time? Daytime? Nighttime?

– How will you acquire this knife?

– How will you use it? Do you know how?

– Why will you select a specific knife?

     Another, longer “what” question. The chicken or the egg? What came first for you? Or, what will come first, if you are just now thinking about knives? That mysterious adulation of …“the knife,” and then a knife training course? Or did you need a knife first for a task first, then seek a training course? This consideration might help clear a path for your knife selection and proper training. The collector, the historian, the practical user, the adulator? Who are you?

     But that last line of questioning…the “why.” Why will you select a specific knife? I suggest that you do not make a selection based on looks, genres, eras and or culture alone. I think you should select a knife on its ultimate practicality. Of course if you are a collector looking for this or that showpiece – “I own one! It’s a beauty!” –  have fun! (I am not much of a collector of things so I cannot relate to this, but of course, I do understand the hobby.) Or, if you are fanatic about say, old European sword and dagger fighting. Whatever. Get those weapons and mess around with them. Have fun and exercise. Shoot flintlock firearms (just don't carry them as a self defense weapon).

Knife circle 4

Knives have personalities – The generic look. The generic history. The personal attachment. If you plan to actually carry and use a knife? Whether on the job as a telephone lineman, a surgeon, a soldier or a cop, or just a citizen with a hankering for a knife, think of them as tools and well…think of them as shoes. You’ll be wearing them too, and like your hat and shoes, you can change the style, but you can’t change the size of your head and feet. Get the appropriate tool/knife. See clearly, be fleet of foot for the trails and paths of life, Kemosabe. Don’t stumble around with the wrong size, else you’ll trip, fall and fail. And like “running with scissors,” running with the wrong knife can be a minor or costly mistake.

Hock's email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com

 

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FEEDING THE HABIT! Do You Care When Drug Dealers Die?

Do you remember a time when drug addiction was called…”a habit?” Yeah. A habit. This day and age of softening all words to make them sound all politically correct it’s odd to find the horror of drug addiction called simply a habit, as it was back then. Because, you know what a habit is, right?

“I take a walk at 5pm every day.” 
“I have scones with my afternoon tea
.”
Habits!
Not like, “I will destroy my brain, body and my family with heroin. And, if you excuse me, it’s 5 and I will go shoot up. Oh, It's just…you know…a habit of mine.

drugs 1

     Comedian and social commentator George Carlin noted that many old terms, such as the old descriptive word, “Shellshock," we watered it down through the years to tidy slick terms like post-traumatic, this or that. Yet with drug habits, somehow in chronological reverse, we started out with the comfortable word “habit.” Is there a word strong enough to describe the ravages of serious drug use? Hey, there’s another lame, pop term, – “drug use.” If you drank Drano, would you call it “Drano Use, or something else?

     I started working narcotics in the Army in the 1970s (assigned, not by choice) and the word habit was common. As a detective in Texas we all were supposed to constantly develop “dope” cases (dope as in ALL drugs) and it was easy to fall upon and into drug crimes as so many criminals were users. They had…habits. Check forgers. Burglars. Robbers. They were often “feeding their habits” (another pop phrase of the time). Rapists and attempted murderers, killers, are often high when pulling their crimes.

     Today, many drug makers, dealers and drug users are dying in the USA and Mexico. People are shocked with, say, the Chicago shootings. Shell shocked by the drug wars in Mexico. And people are shocked with the massive use and overdoses of “speed” (methamphetamine) users. Didn’t they just smuggle in shipments from China the other day that had killer amounts of bad powder within?

Oh, we are all so sad! Huh?

     Ohhh…people dying. Whether it be Chicago or, Iowa, or the Tex-Mex border, the police, politicians and news media, cluck like mother hens about it all. Cluck. Cluck. Cluck. The formats for these news conferences have grown through the years haven't they? From one guy commenting at a microphone, to a dozen, grim-faced people standing behind the speaker before a bevy of media mikes. The assistant director. This or that supervisor. The head building janitor. This fools the public into thinking there is a TEAM of caring mother hens clucking for you. A team so worried about every community hang-nail or problem, and worried about things like the drug-war, killings. The ODs. The never-ending consumption of…drugs. Cluck, cluck. Cluck. But is it all so sad? Who is dying that we are so sad and clucking about it?

     One dark-thirty night in the 1980s, I got a phone call from the duty patrol lieutenant that there a guy in a hospital shot multiple times in the head. I stumbled out of bed thinking there was a murder. When I got that hospital I went straight to the morgue. All was quiet. No new dead guys? I went to the ER and asked,

“Where’s the dead guy?”
“Huh?”
“The guy shot in the head several times?”
“Oh, exam Room 3.”

     I walked in Room 3 to see a giant black guy, in like a medical/dental chair. Very much alive. A doctor was on a stool standing behind him removing small caliber rounds from his head from in and under his scalp. The guy seemed wide awake. He was a snappy dresser. In summary, none of the bullets penetrated his skull but scooted around under his scalp. 3? 4? Even 5 shots? I can’t remember. Hit men liked to use .22s back then because they expected the round to enter the skull but not have the mojo needed to exit the skull, therefore the bullet plays pin ball with said brains. But not this time! No entry.

     I watched the removal the slugs and the doc, with large tweezers plucking them and dropped them into a metal bowl with some colored fluid in it. I pulled up a chair and asked what happened. He told me he was from east Dallas and visiting the ______________ club, just playing pool when a total stranger walked up to him and for no reason at all tried to blow his brains out. Okay. That’s a lie. He insisted he did not want to press charges. And did not want any investigation. When it became apparent that I knew he was a drug dealer, he finally insisted, “Don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of this.”

     We had a case-closing option – “Cleared by Exception” and one of the rules was, that if a complainant did not want to press charges, the case could be closed by exception. I looked him over and thought,

“Well. He might kill a drug dealer. Maybe if we’re lucky, they might kill each other. Hmmm. That sounds like win-win to me.”

     Such are the late-night, decisions one makes in the field. In fact, I had arrested several suspects in dope dealer shooting cases in the years past, and if the survivor didn’t take a plea, they beat the rap in a courtroom trial, claiming they shot back in self defense. It worked.


70s
Me, in the old narc days.

     When the bullets were removed, he insisted on leaving. I watched him pay a large amount of cash for the treatment, and walked him outside to a waiting car that drove him away. It was a nice car. I memorized the plate. At this point, like 5am, the night club was closed.

     So the next night I nosed around the club, talked to some folks and yeah, he was a dope dealer, shot by another dope dealer from another city. I made some cursory phone calls to the number he gave to “check on him” and duly noted the attempts. No return calls. I let the case gather a little dust on my desk and in about a week, I closed the investigation by exception. Me, my chain of command, the D.A.s office, we all knew the score and maybe, just maybe, if we were lucky? We’d have two more dead drug dealers (and hopefully outside our city limits too! Whew!)

     Outside our city limits? I always get a kick when Gibbs on the TV show "NCIS" battles the local city police over the case, when a Marine is killed off base.

“No, this is an NCIS case,” Gibbs demands.
“NO, This is a Baltimore city case!” The city cop demands.
HA! Folks, it don’t happen like this. Instead they try to foist the corpse off on each other. 
“You take it! Your guy!” 
“No, you take it! Your city!"

     Is it really so sad that dope dealers and gang members are killing each other? No. Never has been, unless you are a play-pretend, mother hen politician or play-pretend, police admin who must appear indignant and emotional while standing at the microphone before a staff of solemn team-members. And…all these white people dying of speed overdoses. Is that so sad? No. What is sad is when there are crying babies in the back seat of the car with OD-ed parents in the front seat. The collateral damage.

Collateral damages.
     What is sad is the financial and emotional damages done BY these people. The poor woman in Chicago walking to church and shot from random gunfire a block away. The poor kid shot down the street. I know this. I feel this. My only unsolved homicide is gang/drug related drive-by shooting. A guy sprayed a TEC-9 at gang standing in front of a tall wooden fence. 9mms penetrated the fence, hit and killed an innocent, college girl in the back yard. Her name was Ortensia. The best I could determine was that the drive-byers were from the notorious, Ft Worth, Stop 6 area and the escaped victims (none were shot) were from…east Dallas. She was the only one shot and killed. The death is…haunting. I kept a photo of her on my phone. Oh, I don’t mean like a photo on a gallery in thin, mobile phone. This was the late 1980s. I am talking about an actual, color photo taped onto my desk phone. Every time I used that damn phone, I saw Ortensia’s face. It was a high school, grad photo. The face of a pretty, young, smiling black girl, about to go to college. I…saw…it…every…day. It’s haunting.

     Ortensia’s mother in Waco demanded results. I couldn’t produce a suspect. Her mother hounded the police chief. The case was eventually handed over to a North Texas Gang Task Force. They couldn’t produce. Years later the case was given to the Texas Rangers. They couldn’t produce. After my retirement, the case was considered cold. The mother bothered the new police chief and it was re-assigned again, with no results. If the mother knew me, she would have known I would never give up on such a killing. Never. I had captured other Ft Worth gang guys that shot up our town. If there was some lead, any lead? I’d follow it. If I got a lead tomorrow on Ortensia’s murder, I would go work that case, retired or not. Ortensia was…collateral damage.

     And how about those dead babies? I've worked several dead baby cases and I worked a case one night where a baby froze to death sleeping in a trashed-out car while mom was shooting up in ghetto house.

     I know collateral damage. I…feel…collateral damage. Collateral damage is probably the real reason why we are still in the game. All the collateral victims, from property crime to murder, and the grieving families. It's what this "feeding the habit" does. Fighting the so-called "war on drugs" is really all about the collateral damage. At least when the Mafia killed off each other, they were careful not to hurt anyone else.

    If ALL the drugs were made "libertarian legal," there still would be collateral damage to deal with. The past clearly proves that alcohol related crime, drunk driving and stupid drunk people fighting, assaults, rape, even murder, causes a lot of social sanitation work already for police. Traffic wrecks, traffic deaths, etc.

     I am retired now. Old. I don’t play-pretend. One reason I retired is I've never been a clucking hen. If you ask me specifically, do I care about drug dealers killing each other? When tattooed, gang members die? Do I care about speed freaks and speed whores overdosing and dying?

     Fuck no.

 

HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com

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Maximum Age to Enlist in…the Military!

“I regret I did not serve.”

“I wished I’d served.”

“One of my greatest regrets is I did not serve.

jern 1

I hear a lot of this talk, sometimes in person, but a lot on radio and television. Somehow the topic comes up, along with the “thank you for your service,” when speaking about, to and with military vets. Thanks of thanks going around about this and all kinds of service now. During the last presidential campaign, Ted Cruz thanked a nurse for her service in a town hall meeting. Thanking people for their service can go deep and wide, in fact, I thanked a girl at Whataburger this afternoon, when she brought me my burger. Thanks…for your service. Someone commented the other day that "Thank you for service" is so overused, that it is starting to sound like, "Your call is important to us."

A Dennis Miller use to say, “I don’t want to go off on a rant here…” and I usually dodge these kinds of topics, but here are some “tongue in cheek” observations on the wishes, regrets and thanks…and the military.

I know it’s a bit of a fad thanking vets for their services these days. (You do realize that some military vets spent their entire tour filling soda machines?) And while I guess some vets dig this attention. I myself can take a pass on that thanks, thank YOU! If you spot me when I wear my Army ball cap, I wear it like you wear your college ball cap. It’s just an alma mater I attended, a real school of hard knocks I went to. As soon as I get another crew cut I won’t need that, or any hat, for a while to hide my wild-ass, cowlick, unkempt hair. Hair gets too long? Outta bed with crazy hair? ? I wear a hat till I see the barber.

I do see various old timers walking around with what appears to be oversized ballcaps with explicit, patriotic embroidery announcing what campaign, or what battle, or battleship they were on. Whatever. Do they just want to be recognized and be…thanked? Whatever. Okay. But dude, those hats are like…gigantic.

But I have heard a lot of wishes of “I had served,” “greatest regrets,” speeches lately, and from some younger guys too, like the radio host I heard yesterday, who happens to be a big NRA guy and conservative. (Just saying.) Next, voiced from the regretful people, we might hear a litany of excuses (none as long as Hillary Clinton’s recent excuses) on why they didn’t/couldn’t enlist, from diaper rash to who-knows-what-all. Some, smartly just regret not serving and give us no excuses. Whew! Thanks. Thanks for NOT sharing. That’s fine with me, too. Whatever.

But these heartfelt, “my GREATEST regret is…” This got me to thinking about the regretters. And…and, for that matter – what also about the ton of tough guys out there, no military, yet talking about guns and skulls and killing and flag and country and prepping and bragging, etc? Yakking about "Me-Infidel." Sheepdogs. And all that dressing up too? All that tattooing, macho outfits, gear and all those special forces beards and stuff?

So, I got to thinking –

“Dear Heart-Felts, Dear Beard-Men, you know, you aren’t dead yet.”

So, how old is too old to enlist? I decided to look it up.

  Army 35

  Army reserve 35

  Navy 34

  Navy reserve 39

  Air Force 39

  Air Force Reserve 34

  Marines 29

  Marine Reserve 29

  Coast Guard 27

  Coast Guard Reserve 29

  Army national Guard 35

  Air National Guard 39

  Canadian military 42

  French Foreign legion 39 and 6 months

  British military 33

Then each US state has state militaries too, and those ages differ too. You have to check out each one. Most military info webpages worry about the first legal age to enlist and some forget to mention the maximum age. But max ages vary and there are numerous stories of congressmen intervening and getting older hound dogs into various services.

And waivers! There are age waivers! (see the below story of a FIFTY-FIVE year old who got in! I think these 35 to 40 year old, cut-off ages are far too restricted. Older, experienced people could sure help out the cause. But if we go to a serious, world war, watch the age limits change as they will need ladies and gentlemen of all ages.

But for many of you out there voicing these deep regrets? Or, have skulls tattooed on your forehead and dream of macho combat? It might not be too late for you. Check your age? Or even write your congressman! When that diaper rash clears up? Maybe you too can still enlist?

Oh, to those who have served? By the way…yeah, yeah – thanks for your service.

(and so ends my “tongue-in-cheek,” Dennis Miller-ian, rant)

https://www.thebalance.com/us-military-enlistment-standards-3354001

 

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Fightin’ Words – The Psychology and Physicality of Fighting 

Fightin' Words – The Psychology and Physicality of Fighting  
by W. Hock Hochheim 

(This following text is on the back cover. I did not write this, the book folks did, but…so…well…here it is…)

01 Book Cover-med

About the Author- W. Hock Hochheim is a former military police patrolman and investigator, a former Texas patrol officer and detective, and former private investigator. During his career, spanning three decades working in "line operations" only, he's investigated more than 1,000 crimes and arrested nearly as many suspects. He has graduated from numerous, national Assault and Violent Death police schools and street survival courses. He also organized protection and security for famous authors, politicians, musicians, TV and movie stars. Over the last 40 years Hock has studied martial arts and hand, stick, knife and gun combatives, earning numerous black belts in multiple systems.

In 1996, Hock founded Force Necessary, a training company that teaches situational, event-based, scenario-based fighting tactics to military, police and citizens. Hock has written prolifically about martial arts, psychology, sports and history in countless magazines and books. He is quoted frequently by experts worldwide. He currently teaches some 30 seminars a year in 13 allied countries.

For more than 15 years, Hock has also authored a very popular blog read by tens of thousands. He is known as an educator, entertaining skeptic, and pioneer, martial, myth-buster by citizens, military, police, and martial arts experts worldwide. You cannot find all these special studies, articles and essays on his blog page as they are collected in book.

"Fightin'" Words is a collection of essays and articles by Hock about his life-long, worldwide quest to uncover the best, base-line, fighting tactics, strategies and skill-developing methods. These essays are based on his travel, study and research of the psychology and physicality required to successfully fight criminals and enemy soldiers. The book is about fighting, or "fightin'" since Hock is a Texan and speaks like one. He dissects elements of survival, self-defense, war, crime, martial arts and combat sports. He explores the changing terrain of these systems and how they evolved. And meanwhile, reveals a little martial, history and gossip here too!

There is also a photo tribute collection to the many international hosts who have hosted him over the last 22 years.

Oversized paperback 
301 pages.

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Stay Alive While on the Phone with 911!

I don’t know what precisely happened in Minneapolis. I think an important safety lesson must be spread immediately, despite the unfolding investigation, therefore I write this short message.

How did that poor Australian girl get shot? It PAINS me to see her pretty face. By now we know the public details, right? If you already know what happened? Skip this next paragraph.

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"Ruszczyk, a 40-year-old Australian native, called 911 on the night of July 15 to report what she believed was a  sexual assault occurring near her home in Minneapolis' Fulton neighborhood. Two officers from the Minneapolis Police Department, identified by authorities as Matthew Harrity and Mohamed Noor, responded to Ruszczyk's call. Officer Harrity was driving the squad car, while Officer Noor was in the passenger seat, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. As they neared Ruszczyk's home, Harrity indicated that he was startled by a loud sound near the car, after which Ruszczyk immediately approached the driver's side, authorities said. Noor then fired his weapon, striking Ruszczyk through the driver's side window, which was open. The officers provided medical assistance to Ruszczyk until medics arrived, but she was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office has confirmed that Ruszczyk died of a single gunshot wound to her abdomen." – web news report.

Define “loud sound?” I’d like to hear that definition. What a mess. Here’s a general, working fix for that to almost never happen, or not to happen again.

Through the years, I have had to respond to a few incidents while off-duty. Not just in my neighborhood, but while “out and about.” Even in other cities! As I left to “see what was happening” Before departing I told my wife to call 911 and tell them I was there and how I was dressed and to TELL RESPONDING OFFICERS about me. Locally, they would say “Detective Hochheim is on the scene,” but I would still want them to know how if I was dressed in my Mickey Mouse pajamas and Hồ Chí Minh flip flops.

When we were out of town, I told her to describe me completely to the dispatcher on the phone, tell them I was an armed police officer, describe me and my clothes. And to INSIST the RESPONDING OFFICERS were TOLD this info. These unfortunate events were not big deals and too distracting to retell here. And not the point, and I am still alive.

The working fix? The dispatchers told the responding officers who I was, what I was wearing, etc. The fix needs to be extended out to all dangerous calls. Cops should know this, but citizens do not. Who ramrods this commo? The 911 dispatcher. It’s a DISPATCHING PROBLEM! Communications.

I know for a fact this “fix” is already in many agencies. 911 operators virtually cling to their callers while officers are in route for a host of reasons, this type of shooting being one of them. Consider the “what if” questions…

WHAT IF…The dispatcher never hung up on the caller. If the dispatcher didn’t then…

WHAT If…The dispatcher warned the woman against going outside to see the officers. Or, organized the proper meeting over the air.

WHAT IF…The dispatcher remained on the line and told the woman, “STAY INSIDE!”

WHAT IF…The woman wanted to go outside to help and the dispatcher asked her what she looked like and was wearing? And the dispatcher told the officers, “Witness/caller, white, blonde female in pajamas will be standing by to answer questions, is outside or will be coming outside.”  

WHAT IF…The officers were expecting to see the caller/complainant, a white, blonde woman in her pajamas, with phone, as they neared the scene.

WHAT IF…The dispatcher ramrodded/coordinated the whole encounter?

Her husband-to-be (marriage in one month) admitted just today on the news that he wished he had never hung up the phone with her after she called the police. This would suggest that she and the dispatcher had hung up, for them to talk.

So, again, I don’t know exactly what happened in Minneapolis. For a period of time in the 1980s, I had to work Internal Affairs at my agency. I was not popular, as most aren’t, and my CID Captain eventually rescued me from the slot. I know well that facts and stories can get weird and crazy. But these dispatcher questions were the first issues that came to my mind when I heard about the shooting. (DEFINE loud sound!). And this is probably why, in the end, Minneapolis PD will also be a jam for dropping the commo ball. Bottom line? If the shooting officer is indeed an everyday idiot like many locals have tried to portray him? He’d have less of an excuse if all this info had been properly communicated. In the end, an innocent woman was shot and killed and that is a tragic mistake. Several fail safes had to fail for this to happen.

Let’s also take a look at the big picture. In the USA (and around the world) hundreds of thousands of calls for service are successfully processed each day. Citizens with dispatchers with police and…with criminals. Within these vast calls for service numbers almost NO ONE gets shot. Hardly ever in the big picture.

But as a safety lesson?

Dear Citizens of Gotham. When you are in a weird situation/location? On the phone with the dispatcher? INSIST the dispatcher tell the responding officers who you are and what you look like and what you are wearing and where you think you are and where you are going. And, maybe stay somewhere safe?

 

Coming very soon, new book…

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Rubbing Elbows, Not Elbow Strikes.

Many years ago I was in Cincinnati, Ohio on a seminar trip and made a run to a store in my rental car, kind of late one Saturday night. In the shopping mall near the store was a two-story gym, mostly made of glass and there inside as I drove by, I spotted 4 guys on a wooden floor, in plain clothes, training to fight. 4 guys. No school. No uniforms. 4 guys. They were doing – I don’t know – what you might call, “modern fighting.” The vision sort of stuck with me and made me think of the proliferation of “small groups.” One was probably the leader, the organizer. I actually stopped the car on the lot and watched them for a long minute. Strong sense of nostalgia and admiration.

     How many, many times I have I seen such small groups, and been a part of such small groups. How many of these groups of 4 have attended my seminars?

     One deep thread for all of them is a bond. A friendship. A social deal of some kind beyond just working out. Ever note how these people share various traits? Looks? Clothes? Interesting. What brought them together? Why do they stay?

     Schools and small “homeless” groups. Unlike back then, these days there are all kinds of Krav schools and MMA schools doing multi-discipline, “modern, street-fighting” (and I hate that term, but it’s an easy, name-drop). Official places to go to get multi-system fighting. There is a lot of BJJ out there, but I don’t consider that multi-discipline. Through the years I have observed all sorts of “martial” groups and “arts” groups. Even martial “arts-artsy” groups. Regular martial arts schools have galleons of kids to keep their ships afloat, and way less adults. Now with Krav schools and MMA schools, adults classes seem to survive without kids, maybe taking away from the small “homeless” groups? Observing all their ups and downs is interesting. Educational. You can spot the mistakes. Often the successes and failures are situational and customized. Sometimes, they limit themselves to the point of “shooting themselves in the foot.”

     Some members of these smaller adult groups will come and go, but a sufficient “leader” just seems to attract the rare kind of person that keeps a core group going. There just always seems to be a core subsection – the leader and two, three or maybe four people. Even in a standard professional, strip-center, school, these friends might eventually get officially hired to help the leader. But still a very social friendship is at the core of most success- however you want to define the word success. (Warning! Once hiring and money and dues/tithing get in the friendship picture, it might hurt the relationships. Seen that a lot.)

     What I am suggesting is – take serious note of how important the social/friendship “thing” is to the promotion, stability and financial success of your “school/program/work-out” group. Schools reeking in forced business models have this built in, especially for kids. Kids are easy. Movie night. Birthday parties. Laser sword gigs. Many organize these social events on “must do” commands from the "Kuraty" business group they pay big bucks to. What about adults that don’t fit this mold? What’s for them? Barbecue Sunday? Some adults prefer a drunken, debauchery night? What will it be? Groups are…customized. You can see it all around.The whose-who, whose with who. Why do they stay? Why do they not look "outside?" Our tribal selves!

Dinner 3

     Ever think about who you host for a seminar? Usually it becomes more of friendship than a strict, business-only deal. Great information imparted by a pain-in-the-ass person is not going to weave in well. I’ve heard stories where the seminar, super-star

– One stole a French guy’s passport.

– One star actually wanted a host to buy him expensive cowboy boots.

– One star wanted his teeth fixed!

– One wanted to buy cocaine.

– One wants to organize hazing that by today’s standards would have you sued and thrown in jail.

– One wants very expensive, booze and multi course meals for Saturday night feast (as your king is in town!)

– One star plucked a pistol from someone’s hands and tossed it on the ground.

– A once famous star taught a large group of US special forces. He wanted to be known as a real tough guy, but was famous for causing reckless injuries. 90 out of 100 of the SF soldiers, in an organized protest, wrote letters to their commander that the guy was basically a jerk and caused many unnecessary injuries. Today, shunned by several countries, he essentially lives in obscurity.

– I was at a Joe Lewis seminar years ago and during a break, he told a few of us, “my wife told me that if I wanted to do these seminars, I have to be nice to people.” (Darn it!) 

     I could go on, but let me say, that the systems you do, the schools, classes and seminars who you do them with, is very much a social experience. Think about that. Then think more about that.

     Me, I am a very “easy date,” and luckily, I like to hang out with all my hosts. In many ways, that is my favorite part of the seminar weekend. Sometimes just driving to and from the airport is my favorite part. Seriously. There are always photos on Facebook of the seminar dinner, or the Christmas party. As I get older and, or more sore and tired, it is becoming harder for me to teach 8 hours and then run out to eat on the busy Saturday night group dinner where all the good, noisy places have long, long waiting lines. Homey needs to lay down. Homey watch TV. Homey take pain-killers. Homey sleep. (Homey also must write a lot for deadlines). But, Homey still attends the dinners.

Dinner 2

Martial Friend Questions!

– Who…are you? Who are they?

– What…do you want?

– What do they want?

– What do you do that attracts them?

– Where…will they find you?

– When…can you meet regularly?

– How…will they find you?

– How will you find them? How entertaining are you?

– Why…do this? Your motive? Their motive

– You could write a book answering these questions.

     I still see these little groups of three, four and five folks, making the time and effort to get together in gyms, garages and parks, etc. I was and am still nostalgic because I started my “freedom-from-classical-doctrine” times in 1986 in the corner of a gym with a small group, just like those 4 cats in the Cincinnati gym.

You still have to have a “boss-man/chief” with some experience and a thirst for knowledge, running it. Most all the modern teachers with savvy have various reputable, black belts hanging/hiding in their closets. It’s a time, grade, savvy, experience, maturity thing. It’s a people thing too.

Dinner 1

Rubbing elbows is still important and the key part of doing what you want to do, for your localized “job/hobby/lifestyle/business." Your friendships, your personality, your ability to attract them and keep them are parts of the skeleton.

Think about that.

Then think more about that.

Our tribal selves!

Whose foot are you shooting?

 

Coming soon, the book and audio…Fightin Words!

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Fencing and Knife Fighting? How important is Olympic Fencing to it?

Sword.

Small sword.

Big knife.

Small knife.

Sword Fighting.

Epee sport fencing.

Dueling.

Olympic Fencing.

Knife Fighting.

Enthusiasts like to discuss and compare dueling and fencing with knife fighting and big knives and swords and smaller knives…and, and, and… The topic comes up now and then on how fencing skills help knife fighting skills and also, oddly, how fencing skills helps fighting in general. For me? Not so much.

It is confusing to discuss these things unless you set down some edged weapon world definitions. Some people can’t adequately define them, which causes a confusing debate and conclusion. They might say, “the best knife fighting training is fencing.” Well, what kind of fencing? There are several kinds of fencing with small letters and capital letters. And several different tools used when fencing.

Who died first med

A sword is…well, a sword. There are all kinds of swords, you know. We immediately think of the olden days and the swords of knights, and Cossacks and the Three Musketeers. As defined in most universes, “ a weapon having various forms but consisting typically of a long, straight or slightly curved blade, sharp-edged on one or both sides, with one end pointed and the other fixed in a hilt or handle.” A key word in our comparison is “long.” We might add that some swords are best wielded by two hands. Many still by one hand.

A Big Knife is…well, a big knife. It certainly will be handled by a single hand. Two hands need not apply. Some people consider any knife with a blade over 6 inches  and “less than a short sword” is a big knife. I recall one knife enthusiast remarked, “…is defined by a culmination of its features, a critical mass of its qualities.” That has a ring to it. People think of the ubiquitous Bowie Knife as a big knife. It is also knife-lore that a small knife is concealable.

A Small Knife is…well, smaller. One-handed. Easy to conceal, as the topic of concealment often comes up with defining sizes. It would stand to reason that a knife with a blade under 6 inches could be called a small knife. It is also knife-lore that a small knife is concealable.

Dueling is…well, you know, right? Look up “duel,” and you will find terms, like “pre-arranged combat,” “observed by witnesses,” “with guns and swords” and other uses like a “duel of wits.” Today, when we think of edged-weapon fights we often just think of a knife versus knife fight, sort of a touch-and-go, kind of deadly chess match, tag kind of thing? You’ll often hear me talk about the “myth of the duel,” in that unarmed or armed fighters “on the street,” usually aren’t in perfect stances and pre-arranged distances, in and out, experimenting with  jab results, to “win in round three.” Two fighters crash! But two fighters can indeed break apart and this might look like a movie duel for a period of time. A bad movie, but sure, which is why to be comprehensive, we must train for these bits of dueling times too, but the fight is much more.

A Knife Fight is…uglier? Less classy? And how is it that two guys are fighting with knives anyway? Who, what, where, when, how and why? To enter this ugly realm, I often say, “knife fighting is like football/rugby with a knife.” I realize this is a sloppy, somewhat incomplete description but it makes a point about how messy knife fights with real angry people can get. Then there are those folks that believe ALL knife attacks are hidden-knife ambushes. Or ALL knife attacks are madman stitching. Not so. Not so, as a true historian of war and crime will know better abut the diversity.

Fencing. When you fence, it can be sword fighting, and “sparring” training with any and all swords. You certainly fence in any sword class. Which next leads us to ponder, Fencing (with the capital “F”), the sport of “Olympic Fencing.” It is described as an “art or sport of using a foil, epee, or saber in attack and defense.” Most of us envision the single lane sport of forward and back, wispy epees and those special metal helmets and white suits. Most know that the modern fencers use electric epees and suits. But if you are a renaissance sword person, fencing (with a small “f”) just means using regular, dull swords to train and fight with. This is different form the sport of fencing. Is an epee a sword? Epee is French for sword, but today’s Olympic Fencing sword it is not like a “sword-sword” the Huns, Vikings or Samurai would use. It’s a wispy thing, often with electricity running through it. For a sporty game of tag.

     Martial artists reference Olympic Fencing at times, or they think they are when they say "fencing." Some go on and on about how we can learn oh so much from Olympic Fencing. I just don’t think so. I don’t share the love. Jeet Kune Do practitioners know that Bruce Lee praised and studied Olympic Fencing for the fast lead arm and explosive leg work. At one time he organized boxing, Wing Chun and Olympic Fencing as foundations of JKD. I can’t help but think that in the big picture of all that could happen in a standing, seated, ground, hand, stick, knife and gun fight, how Olympic Fencing could be so important. There are only a few, slim tricks that cross over. Any exercise is better than no exercise. And Bruce wasn’t worrying about knife fighting when working on boxing and trapping hands, even though Olympic Fencing was about “edged weapons.”

I don't like too much of a Olympic Fencing influence in knife material for several reasons.

– One is that Olympic Fencing is a suicidal game plan. I sacrifice my position, my…everything just to touch you first. That is all I care about. "First Touch." I touch first, I win. That is the Olympic Fencing, training goal. First tag. No matter that, even if the other "blade" cuts my throat after my "first touch" win. I won! My first touch, sport win may not be a successful real fight ender (what knife attack is, and someone should always prepare…

 

For the rest of this story? Read Fightin Words. Click here

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